Following on from last week’s opening clash, when Asia ran out deserved victors by 23 runs, both teams rang in several changes to their squads, with ROW suffering the loss of captain Jason Robertson through a shoulder injury, but were buoyed by the return of Paddy Ledboer and the introduction of former Patong player Justin Swart from Bangkok side, the Southerners, while Asia’s alternates included Sunny Surender and Waseem Musa.
Again, Asia captain Shivam Bhattachraya won the toss and decided to make ROW chase down a total after a few hours fielding in the day’s heat, once more placing opening duties on the pairing of Seemant Raju and Imtiyaz Mushtaq.
Facing the medium pace attack from Swart and Michael Flowers, both Asia batsmen knuckled down to ensure a solid start, eventually taking the score to 60 in the 11th over before the bowling partnership collaborated to dismiss Mushtaq (24) as he looked to despatch a Flowers delivery that Swart caught comfortably at deep mid-wicket.
Just three overs later, Swart and Flowers again united to dismiss Raju (32) as he too aimed for a boundary off Flowers bowling, only to find the sure hands of Swart, with the score at 71-2.
Joining Sameer Khan at the crease, Mayur Deuskar faced only eight deliveries before his wicket signalled an Asia mid-order collapse, when Curt Livermore struck in the 17th over, bringing the intimidating Ali Khan to the middle. But it was Livermore who proved more threatening in bowling Khan for 9 runs in the 19th over, and then taking the wicket of Bhanu Pratap (3) two overs later thanks to a catch by Flowers.
An over later, young Dom Judge got in on the act with a solid LBW appeal that put paid to Sami Pir’s brief appearance, before Livermore found a way through Sajal Gaur’s defence for his fourth wicket in the 25th over with the score showing 177 for 7.
While Asia bled batsmen for very few runs, Sameer Khan held fast and kept the score ticking over, picking off any errant deliveries to reach 52 off 62 until he pounced on a delivery from Judge that looked boundary bound just as Stuart Hamilton reacted to take a very sharp overhead catch, ending Khan’s commendable innings.
Judge was to claim his third wicket two overs later with an assist from Swart catching Surrender in the deep, before Swart himself ended the Asia innings by bowling Waseem Musa (22) on the first ball of the 35th over with the total on 189.
Targeting 190 for victory, ROW sent Jeremy Bootsy and Dan Nicholson out to begin the chase. For the first two overs, extras were becoming a concern for Asia with eight runs scored, but only two coming off the bat until the third over when Bootsy found his range in claiming two fours off Pir’s bowling.
The fourth over saw the demise of Nicholson deemed LBW from a Gaur delivery that brought Swart in to partner Bootsy. And into a fine partnership it developed as both batsmen ran well between the wickets, securing boundaries when feasible.
At the 15th over drinks’ break, the score showed 113 for 1 and ROW certainly had the ascendancy, while both Swart and Bootsy were closing in on their half centuries. Unfortunately for Bootsy, a mistimed effort off the bowling of Ali Khan found the hands of wicket-keeper Desukar just seven balls after the re-start to return Bootsy on a score of 49.
Swart (64) in the meantime had secured his 50, but just six balls later was run out by Raju in pushing for a second run off Surender’s bowling, and the score now at 134 for 3.
With plenty of batting down the order, less than sixty runs for the win and 18 overs remaining, the result was little in doubt as the ROW strategy of utilizing a left-hand and right-hand partnership continued in the form of Hamilton (15) and Joe Ninan to reach 153 for 5 by the 22nd over when Bhattacharya surgically removed Hamilton’s off stump, bringing Livermore to the middle.
Ninan and Livermore (17 not out) would see out the next four overs, with Ninan (16 not out) scoring a four to seal victory, thus ensuring the series will see a deciding game next week (Jan. 17) at the ACG.
Swart just edged out Livermore for man-of-the-match with his 64, 1 for 26 off 7 overs and three catches, while Livermore scorex 17 (N.O.) and took 4 for 24 off 6 overs. Asia’s players of note included Sameer Khan (52 off 62) and Ali Khan (2 for 25 off 5).
The exciting series decider will take place this coming Sunday (Jan 17) with the match due to start at 10am and both sides expected to field their best selections.
What’s on at the ACG (Jan. 12 – 17):
Tuesday: Vagabonds Rugby Training (5-7pm)
Wednesday: Senior Cricket Training (4-6pm)
Thursday: Touch Rugby Training (5-7pm)
Friday: Cricket Training (4-6pm)
Sunday: Asia v ROW (series finale) 10am start